Full text: Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016
March 09,2017 By:Xinhua
Incidents of police killing African-Americans happened repeatedly. According to the Mapping Police Violence website, American police killed at least 303 African-Americans in 2016 (mappingpoliceviolence.org, December 2016). On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old African-American man, entered into clashes with others outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Indiana. After police arrived, they held him to the ground, straddled over his body and killed him with multiple gunshots (edition.cnn.com, July 8, 2016). On July 6, 2016, police in Minnesota stopped a car with mal-functioning rear light and shot an African-American man Philando Castile when he was getting his license and registration. Castile's mother said her son was "black in the wrong place" and said there was "a silent war against African-American people." The U.S. government admitted that the two fatal shootings were not isolated incidents, but symptomatic of the broader challenges within the U.S. criminal justice system (www.bbc.com, July 7, 2016). Two consecutive police killings of African Americans triggered violent protests nationwide. On July 7, 2016, during the protests in Dallas, Texas, five police officers were shot and killed and nine more were injured by an African-American veteran, who said he wanted to kill white police officers to protest against police brutality (www.usatoday.com, July 14, 2016). A Washington Post website report on police shootings in 2015 found that black Americans were 2.5 times as likely to be shot and killed by police as white Americans. Unarmed black men were five times as likely to be shot and killed by police as unarmed white men (www.washingtonpost.com, December 6, 2016). On February 17, 2016, Paul Gaston, a 37-year-old Cincinnati man, had just been in a serious car accident before he was shot and killed by three police officers. Police claimed Gaston appeared to reach for a gun in his waistband, but it turned out to be a fake one. A day before, a white man pointed a similar fake gun at the police in Cincinnati, but the police did not fire a shot, only peacefully arrested the man and charged him with menacing. The New York Daily News website commented that the two incidents and their differing outcomes highlighted the different police attitudes towards black and white men and the racial double standards in America were real (www.nydailynews.com, February 19, 2016). The Washington Post website reported on December 6, 2016, that Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 years old, entered a restaurant in northwest Washington while carrying a semiautomatic rifle. Welch walked backward out of the restaurant unarmed and with his hands up, and the police did not shoot him (www.washingtonpost.com, December 6, 2016). In sharp contrast, on September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Crutcher had his hands up and back turned. Police officer also deployed Taser gun on him (www.cbsnews.com, September 19, 2016).
Racial discrimination in law enforcement and judicial fields was common. The New York Times website reported on August 10, 2016, that Baltimore relied on 'zero tolerance' street enforcement, which encouraged officers to make large numbers of stops, searches and arrests for minor, highly discretionary offenses. These practices led to repeated violations of the constitutional and statutory rights. Data from police departments around the country showed that officers using the zero-tolerance strategy focused their arrests on African-American men in poor neighborhoods, while ignoring the same offenses in wealthier white neighborhoods (www.nytimes.com, August 10, 2016). A poll by the U.S. Public Religion Research Institute showed that 64 percent of the African Americans said police mistreatment was a major problem in their community. More than 81 percent black Americans said police killings of African American men were part of a broader pattern of how police treat African Americans (www.prri.org, August 7, 2016). The Washington Post website reported on August 31, 2016 that five years ago, police in South Bend, Indiana, mistook 18-year-old high school senior DeShawn Franklin as a suspect and went inside his home without a search warrant. They punched him several times and used a stun gun on him. In August 2016, the jury found the officers violated Franklin's constitutional rights, ordered each of the defendants to pay Franklin and his parents one dollar for the violation of their rights. The total award was 18 dollars in damages. Mario Sims, a senior pastor in South Bend, said the small amount of compensation sent a strong message to Franklin and his family: "your rights are worth a dollar" (www.washingtonpost.com, August 31, 2016).